Tomas Masaryk

Tomas Masaryk

Tomas Masaryk was born in Hodonin, Moravia in 1850. The son of a coachman, Masaryk was educated at Vienna and Leipzig and in 1882 became Professor of Philosophy at the Czech University in Prague.

Masaryk, a member of the Vienna Parliament in 1891-93 and 1907-14, advocated the reconciliation of all western and southern Slav groups (Czechs, Slovaks, Croats and Serbs). After calling for nation states to replace multinational anachronism of Austria-Hungary he was forced to flee to Geneva in August 1914.

Masaryk moved to London in 1915 where he started the influential monthly periodical The New Europe. In 1917 Masaryk helped form the Czech Legion that fought on the Eastern Front against the Central Powers. The following year he went to the United States where he convinced Woodrow Wilson of the importance of a new state for the Czech people.

After the Versailles Peace Treaty Masaryk became President of Czechoslovakia. Twice re-elected, Masaryk retired in December 1935 and was replaced by his long-time friend, Eduard Benes. Tomas Masaryk died in 1937.